Direct Brain Interface Laboratory


Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Department of Biomedical Engineering
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Research Group

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  Our Lab History and Vision  
 

The UM-DBI lab combines many years of BCI research and close clinical ties to assistive technology service delivery with a strong engineering background. The UM-DBI laboratory was co-founded by Dr. Simon Levine and Dr. Jane Huggins, the current principal investigator. The term Direct Brain Interface is intended to emphasize the function of the BCI as a direct connection between the human brain and various kinds of technologies (not just computers). With funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in the Department of Education and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the UM-DBI laboratory pioneered BCI research based on electrocorticogram (ECoG) from electrodes implanted inside the skull. In recent years, the UM-DBI Laboratory has focused on non-invasive BCIs using electroencephalogram (EEG) with funding from the Cerebral Palsy Alliciance Research, National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Eunice Kennedy National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), NIDRR, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR), and the Mildred E. Swanson Foundation.

The UM-DBI laboratory's close clinical ties have fueled a desire to see the rapid advance of some form of BCI to clinical availability and an awareness of the limited nature of many of the BCI-specific applications developed for BCI operation. Funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the NIH enabled the creation of a BCI that can operate as a plug-and-play replacement for a standard USB keyboard as well as providing access to other assistive technology and the development of novel BCI control capabilities. Funding from NIDRR enabled study of the BCI design priorities and preferences of people with a variety of disabling conditions as well as testing with a variety of potential BCI users.

Current funding from MICHR and the Mildred E. Swanson Foundation are enabling development of a BCI for cognitive testing. Future research directions include interfacing BCIs to commercially available assistive technologies, improving BCI response time and no-control performance, identifying features and support necessary for successful independent BCI use by people with physical impairments, identifying the design preferences and priorities of potential BCI users, BCI applications in cognitive testing, and the identification and accommodation of user-specific characteristics that affect BCI function.

 
   
  Principal Investigator  
 
Jane Huggins, Ph.D.
    Associate Research Scientist
    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    Department of Biomedical Engineering
    Huggins Neuroscience Graduate Program
    University of Michigan.

    Dr. Huggins received her B.S. in Computer Engineering with a Biomedical Engineering option and an Art Minor from Carnegie Mellon. She received a M.S. in Bioengineering, a M.S.E. in Computer Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She completed a clinical Rehabilitation Engineering Internship. While working on her dissertation, she founded the University of Michigan Direct Brain Interface Laboratory with Dr. Simon Levine. Dr. Huggins has been the director of the University of Michigan Direct Brain Interface Laboratory since 2007. Her current focus is making EEG-based brain-computer interfaces practical
    for people who need them. Outside the lab, Dr. Huggins enjoys knitting, horseback riding, birdwatching, cooking, and
    being Mom to her two school-age children.

    Dr. Huggins is a founding member of the board of directors of the Brain-Computer Interface Society. She also organized
    the 5th and 6th International Brain-Computer Interface Meetings in 2013 and 2016.

    Contact: janeh@umich.edu

 
   
  Co-Investigators  
 
Seth Warschausky, Ph.D.
 
 
Joseph Hornyak, M.D., Ph.D.
 
 
Noelle Carlozzi, Ph.D.
 
   
  Graduate Students  
 
Abdulrahman Aref
    PhD Student
    Abdul University of Michigan.

    Abdulrahman graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering (BME) from Purdue University, and is pursuing his graduate studies at the University of Michigan. After completing his masters degree in BME with a biomechanics concentration, he shifted gears and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in BME at the University of Michigan Direct Brain Interface (UMDBI) Lab. His interest is in combining his biomechanics background with his current research in brain-computer interface technology to develop more effective and intelligent rehabilitation devices/methods (e.g. prosthetics, robot-assisted therapy for motor recovery, etc). In his spare time, Abdulrahman likes to study the psychology of comic book characters and to feed his never-ending
    fascination of animal behavior

 
   
  Undergraduate Students  
 
Sean Stockwell
    Sean Stockwell Undergraduate Student
    Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
    University of Michigan.

    Sean is a sophomore from the Chicago suburbs currently studying computer engineering. He is part of the club swim team as well as a member of the EECS honor society, and his interests lie within neural prosthetics, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

 
 
Sean Garrett
Sean Garrett
    Undergraduate Student
    Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science,
    University of Michigan.

    Sean is a sophomore from Vicksburg, Michigan, and plans to pursue a degree in Computation Cognitive Science with a minor in Computer Science. In his spare time, Sean enjoys listening to music, playing trombone or drums, teaching music to youth in Detroit, and volunteering with the University's Rotaract club.

 
 
Ishan Vashishta
Ishan Vashishta
    Undergraduate Student
    LSA Computer Science,
    University of Michigan.

    Ishan is a sophomore from Mount Pleasant, Michigan. He is intending to major in computer science and minor in philosophy with a focus on mind and meaning. In his free time, Ishan enjoys reading, taking photos, listening to music, and advocating for social justice around campus.

 
 
Sneha Rajen
Sneha
    Undergraduate Student
    Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
    University of Michigan.

    Sneha is a sophomore from Novi, Michigan. She is intending to double major in Computational Cognitive Science and Computer Science, with interests in neural networking, artificial intelligence, and human cognition. On campus, she is involved in Companions through the Ages and volunteer work with the elderly. Outside of this, Sneha enjoys making puzzles, listening to podcasts, and watching Black Mirror.

 
 
Jocelyn Burridge
Josie
    Undergraduate Student
    Department of Biomedical Engineering,
    University of Michigan.

    Jocelyn Burridge is a freshman from Houston, Texas with an intended double major in Biomedical Engineering and Data Science. She is involved in MHEAL as well as the club ultimate frisbee team on campus. In her free time, Jocelyn enjoys swimming, yoga, volunteering with special needs gymnastics, and going to concerts.

 
   
  Past Fellows and Graduates  
 
Ramses Eduardo Alcaide Aguirre
    Years with UM-DBI: 2010-2017

    PhD Student
    Neuroscience Program,
    University of Michigan.

    Disseration Title: Evaluating a Novel Brain-Computer Interface and EEG Biomarkers for Cognitive Assessment in Children with Cerebral Palsy

 
 
Stefanie Blain-Moraes
 
 
David Thompson
    Years with UM-DBI: 2008 - 2012

    PhD Student
    Department of Biomedical Engineering,
    University of Michigan.

    Dissertation Title: Unlocking Possibilities While Preserving Performance: Putting the "Interface" Back in Brain-Computer Interface
 
   
 
 
 
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